Blood of Elves

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Blood of Elves
Blood of Elves UK.jpg
Cover of the UK edition of Blood of Elves
AuthorAndrzej Sapkowski
Original titleKrew elfów
CountryPoland
LanguagePolish
SeriesThe Witcher
GenreFantasy
Published
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages320
ISBN978-0-575-08484-1
Preceded bySword of Destiny 
Followed byTime of Contempt 

Blood of Elves (Polish: Krew elfów) is the first novel in the Witcher Saga written by the Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski, first published in Poland in 1994.[1] It is a sequel to the Witcher short stories collected in the books The Last Wish (Ostatnie życzenie) and Sword of Destiny (Miecz przeznaczenia) and is followed by Time of Contempt (Czas pogardy). The book won the Janusz A. Zajdel Award in 1994[2] and the David Gemmell Legend Award in 2009.[3] An English translation was published in the United Kingdom in 2008 (Gollancz)[4] and in the United States in 2009 (Orbit).[5]

Plot[edit]

About a year before the beginning of the novel (as chronicled in the preceding short story "Much More"), the Empire of Nilfgaard attacks the Kingdom of Cintra. Queen Calanthe, mortally wounded, commits suicide and her granddaughter, Cirilla, called Ciri and nicknamed the "Lion Cub of Cintra" manages to flee from the burning capital city. Emhyr var Emreis, Emperor of Nilfgaard, sends his spies to find her. He knows that this young girl has great importance, not only because of her royal lineage, but also because of her elven blood which gives her immense magical potential. The war ends with Nilfgaard's defeat by a coalition of the Northern Kingdoms, though the Empire retains much of its power.

Almost two years after the armistice, the rulers of the Northern Kingdoms meet in secret to discuss the political situation. Peace with Nilfgaard is not what it was supposed to be - the Empire's financial clout is ruining the northern economy, Imperial emissaries agitate aristocrats and merchants against their monarchs, elves and dwarves have formed partisan groups called Scoia'tael (Squirrels) and are conducting acts of terror against humans - and in every major city cultists are prophesying that the world will end, unless the Savior comes from the South. The kings decide to start a war, before the Empire weakens their countries further, and to regain Cintra. They are aware that the Emperor is looking for Ciri to marry her (morganatically) and thus to legitimize his continuing occupation of Cintra. To prevent this, the monarchs decide to find and kill Ciri.

Ciri is being protected by the Witcher Geralt of Rivia, a magically and genetically mutated monster-slayer-for-hire, who takes her to the witchers' keep, Kaer Morhen, to be educated and trained by the few remaining witchers. The oldest member of the Order, Vesemir, asks the sorceress Triss Merigold to come to Kaer Morhen and help with occasional strange and abnormal behavior he had seen in Ciri. Much of what Triss observes is just the normal aspects of a woman's maturation, which the (exclusively male) Witchers are ignorant of, but she eventually realizes that Ciri is a "Source". She acknowledges that she does not have the power to control Ciri's talent, and advises Geralt to swallow his pride and seek help from his former lover Yennefer, a much more experienced and powerful sorceress.

At the same time, a mysterious wizard called Rience is searching for Ciri, the servant of a more powerful mage, whose identity remains unknown. He captures Geralt's friend, Dandelion the bard, and tortures him for information about Ciri. Dandelion is saved by the timely arrival of Yennefer, who engages in a short magic duel with Rience. Rience manages to escape through a portal opened by his master, but is left with a prominent facial scar from Yennefer's spell.

In the spring, Geralt leaves Kaer Morhen with Triss and Ciri, intending to deliver Ciri to the Temple School in Ellander where she would receive a "normal" education from the priestess Nenneke. On the way, Triss falls ill, and they join Yarpen Zigrin's dwarven company who is leading a caravan for King Henselt of Kaedwen. Geralt tells Ciri about the roses of Aelirenn, an elf who died leading elven youths to fight the humans in a hopeless attack. The caravan is attacked by the Scoia'tael, and it is revealed that the escort mission was a trap set by the kings who doubted Yarpen's loyalty.

Ciri's stay in Ellander is still haunted by disturbing dreams until the arrival of Yennefer, who starts educating her in the ways of magic. From an initial antagonism, their relationship develops into a strong and deep bond, like that of a mother and daughter.

Meanwhile, Geralt does his best to track Rience and his mysterious employer. With the help of Dandelion, the novice priestess Shani, and the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, he forces a confrontation with Rience (the latter aided by the famous Michelet brothers, quadruplet assassins for hire), during which both are injured. Rience's master intervenes again, opening a portal for him, and Geralt is prevented from pursuing the mage by Eilhart, who also kills the last surviving Michelet brother so as to keep Geralt from learning the mysterious mage's identity. Geralt is left gravely wounded.

As they are about to leave the Temple School in Ellander, Yennefer asks Ciri whether she did not like her at first, leading to a series of flashbacks detailing Ciri's studies with Yennefer from the day they were introduced and back to the present as they are about to leave the Temple. Ciri admits that she did not like Yennefer, at first, and they leave.

Characters[edit]

  • Geralt of Rivia. A Witcher, a human who has been transformed into a supernatural monster-slayer by the ingestion of various mutagens. Although Witchers rarely get involved in politics, Geralt takes under his charge a political refugee called Ciri, the granddaughter of the previous Queen of Cintra, a kingdom destroyed by Nilfgaardian invaders. He is the protagonist of tie-in videogames The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
  • Triss Merigold. A powerful sorceress and member of the Chapter of Wizards, Triss wields significant power and unclear motives.
  • Cirilla, the Lion-Cub of Cintra, is the young granddaughter of the deceased and overthrown Queen Calanthe of Cintra. The blood of the elves flow through her veins, and she is hunted down for the mysterious yet dangerous power which she possesses.
  • Dandelion. Geralt's best friend. A charming, famous poet who is also a spy for the King of Redania.
  • Yennefer of Vengerberg. Another member of the Chapter of Wizards, and an on-again off-again lover of Geralt's. Considered more powerful than even Triss Merrigold, Yennefer is called upon to try and gain an understanding of Ciri's power.
  • Philippa Eilhart. A senior sorceress of the Chapter of Wizards, and trusted advisor to the King of Redania, alongside royal spymaster Sigismund Dijkstra. She is one of the few mages that has mastered the rare art of magical polymorphy, enabling her to transform into an owl. She aids Geralt in tracking down the renegade mage Rience who is looking for Ciri on behalf of Nilfgaard and another more powerful mage, whom she does not want Geralt to be aware of.

Translations[edit]

Adaptations[edit]

In 2014 a Polish audiobook has been released. It features 79 actors, music, and special effects.[7][8]

Reception[edit]

Krew elfów was the winner of the Polish Janusz A. Zajdel Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel in 1994. In 2009 the book won the David Gemmell Legend Award in the United Kingdom.[9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]